With the Haryana government deciding to keep liquor vends open during the lockdown, the city of Panchkula saw spirited sales of liquor even as the order received much flak from resident welfare associations and several took to WhatsApp and Twitter to air their grouses.
Rakesh Aggarwal, RWA Sector 12 said, “We demand that all liquor vends in the city be closed to ensure our safety. Keeping these open does not only act as a temptation for people to go out, but also as an incentive. If a person is stopped by the police and the person tells them that he was on his way to buy liquor, what will the police offiers do? Both are orders of the same government.”
A senior excise official of Haryana, on the condition of anonymity, told the Indian Express, that it was being done to ensure revenue for the state. “Petroleum and liquor have been kept out of the purview of GST as well. These two generate large revenue on a daily basis, as these commodities are taxed heavily. In case the government stops these services, revenue generation will come to a halt. The treasury is already under heavy stress and stoppage may lead to bankruptcy.”
He added, “Petroleum and liquor are two commodities that generate revenue for the government via taxes on a daily basis. While other high tax payers pay their taxes quarterly, these two are monthly tax payers and they deposit tax each month. If a lockdown goes on for a day, tax of the day gets deducted. Even a single day cut amounts to huge numbers. If a person does not drink today, they will not be drink double tomorrow. Thus, it creates a huge gap in revenue numbers which cannot be overcome howsoever we try. The government cannot afford that.”
Meanwhile, owners of liquor vends were happy with the announcement and claimed that liquor sales had seen a boost since the lockdown in the city. “The city was locked down on Sunday. Anticipating that, people had started buying liquor in huge amounts from the previous week. We too were selling at cheaper prices as we were scared that we might be ordered to shut down. Now that we have not been ordered to close, we have scaled up the prices a little. People come in huge numbers. While people who can afford it buy imported bottles, the locals are buying cheaper brands.
We are earning profits in both,” said a salesman at a liquor vend on the Sector 2/5 diving road, refusing to be identified. He added, “The sales have increased as people have nothing to do, so they are drinking at their homes.”
The CM in his address on Monday, stressed that closing these liquor vends may lead to ‘dushprabhav’ (repercussions). Though vends have been ordered to remain functional, crowd formation at these vends has not been allowed. “People do tend to throng these vends thinking that the government may shut these down tomorrow, but it is not the case as of now. The vends are open. People can make their purchases but should not be forming any crowd,” Khattar had said on Monday.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines